The purpose of this paper is to examine how journals expanded to accommodate the growth in scholarly writing from 1950 to 2000, and how the policy response differed between for‐profit and non‐profit publishers.
Taking economics as an example and using an authoritative list of journals, data were collected and analyzed for the first issue of each decade on new journals, frequency of issues, number of articles published and pages per issue. Each journal was assigned to one of three ownership categories and growth policies analyzed separately for each.
Overall primary reliance was placed on launching new journals and increasing the frequency of issue. However, there was a marked difference between for‐profits and non‐profits. The former launched most new journals and increased publication frequency while keeping individual issues quite short. By contrast, the latter added few journals or issues, but did systematically include more articles in each issue.
This paper looks behind the general growth in scholarly literature to analyze how journals have used the available tools – new journals, more frequent issues, and longer issues – to accommodate the dramatic increase in the number of articles written. Particularly original is the demonstration that for‐profits and non‐profits have used these tools in very different ways.
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